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US-China trade talks in Washington to be held next week

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The trade talks between China and the US will continue in Washington next week after both sides made “progress” but not enough to seal a final deal, ahead of a planned American tariff hike on USD 200 billion of Chinese imports from March 2.

Top officials from the world’s two biggest economies wrapped up the two-days of talks in Beijing on Friday in a bid to at least create sufficient goodwill to stave off an escalation of their tariff war.

Both sides have agreed to continue talks in Washington next week after two days of negotiations in Beijing produced “progress” but not enough to seal a deal to end the trade war, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted officials as saying.

“Talks will continue next week among the same group of people, but at a different place,” said a source, who declined to be identified. “The last two days in Beijing made progress but not enough to seal a final deal,” the source said, adding that the Chinese delegation may leave for Washington on Thursday.

In Washington, the White House said that much work remains to be done for a comprehensive trade deal with China despite considerable progress being done.

Top US and Chinese officials are scheduled to hold another round of trade talks in Washington next week as part of their efforts to negotiate a trade deal between them before the March 1 deadline.

“These detailed and intensive discussions led to progress between the two parties. Much work remains, however,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at the conclusion of the talks in Beijing.

“Much work remains, however. Both sides will continue working on all outstanding issues in advance of the March 1, 2019, deadline for an increase in the 10 per cent tariff on certain imported Chinese goods,” the White House said.

Sanders said the US and Chinese officials have agreed that any commitments will be stated in a Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.

During the talks, the US delegation focused on structural issues, including forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, cyber theft, agriculture, services, non-tariff barriers, and currency, she said.

The two sides also discussed China’s purchases of US goods and services intended to reduce the US’ large and persistent bilateral trade deficit with China, the press secretary said.

“Next week, discussions will continue in Washington at the ministerial and vice-ministerial levels. The US looks forward to these further talks and hopes to see additional progress,” Sanders said.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He met US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin here on Thursday and Friday.

Mnuchin tweeted that he and Lighthizer had held “productive meetings with China’s Vice-Premier Liu He”. Later, both the delegations called on Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi’s meeting with the US delegation was stated as reciprocal move as Trump had met the Chinese delegation when it visited Washington in the first week of this month.

This round of talks was held in Beijing in a more relaxed environment as the US President on Thursday hinted that he might “slide for a little while” the March 1 deadline to increase tariffs on USD 200 billion imports from China in order to reach a deal.

Trump is demanding China to reduce the USD 375 billion trade deficit and protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.

He has already increased the tariffs on over USD 250 billion Chinese exports to US and threatened to extend tariffs on USD 200 billion Chinese imports to 25 per cent from current 10 per cent.

As the talks began on Thursday, the new official data said China’s export growth to the US slowed in January compared with December, while the imports slide widened, indicating a bleak trade picture between the two biggest economies.

China’s imports from the US edged down by 38.6 per cent year-on-year to 63.7 billion yuan (USD 9.4 billion) in January, compared with a 2.3 per cent yearly decline in December, the state-run Global Times reported.

In terms of exports, China exported USD 279.4 billion-yuan worth of goods to the US in January, up by 1.9 per cent year-on-year, but slowing from the 8.6 per cent growth seen in the previous month, according to data revealed by the General Administration of Customs on Thursday.

China’s January trade surplus with the US widened by 31.2 per cent to hit 188.4 billion yuan, according to the data.

The sliding exports growth and widening imports decline not only show that the uncertainties of the China-US trade situation is forcing the market to take risk aversion measures, but also reflects that China’s dependence on US trade is sliding, Bai Ming, deputy director of the MOFCOM’s International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times.

  • Amid the ongoing trade war, China’s economy sank to a 28-year low in 2018 slowing down to 6.6 per cent year on year. It was the lowest growth since 1990.
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Nisha Shiwani hails from the pink city of Jaipur and is a prolific writer. She loves to write on Real Estate/Property, Automobiles, Education, Finance and about the latest developments in the Technology space.



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Terrorism by Pakistan was the central theme of PM’s talks with Xi Jingping and Vladimir Putin at SCO summit in Kyrgystan

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current member countries of Shaghai Cooperation Organisation are : Xi Jingping, Peoples Republic of China, Narendra Modi, Republic of India, Kassim Jomart Tokayev Republic of Kazajistan, Soron bay Jeebekov, Republic of Kyrgyztan, Imran Khan, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Vladimir Putin, Russian Federation, Republic of Tazikistan and Republic of Uzbekistan
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Prime minister Narendra Modi after wining the second term as prime minister has his moral very high in the SCO summit in Bishkek capital of Kyrgystan where he’d not only impressed upon the the Chinese president Xi Jingping about instructing Pakistan to close its terror sanctuaries completely and bring hard core international terrorists JEM chief Asad Masood and LET and JUD chief Hafiz Sayeed to real justice by not only arresting them but also severely trying them in courts for incessant terror deaths in Mumbai, Kashmir,Pulwama and other parts of the country.

Prime minister Narendra Modi has explicitely told the the father of Pakistan China that India will not hold any talks with Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan till Pakistan mends its ways and puts a complete stop to aiding and abetting terrorists in India.

Prime minister Narendra Modi held two rounds of dialogues with Chinese president Xi Jingping and Russian president Vladimir Putin including with the heads of other countries in Kyrgystan emphasising on a single point of global terrorism and its immediate stoppage.

He also convinced other nations to dwell on this important issue of terrorism first than talking on other bilateral matters, as safety and security of humanity is the first and foremost duty of the world leaders.

If there will be global peace only then will everyone be able to talk on other developmental issues. The Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was seen to have been completely sidelined in the sense that it being the only country in the world supporting and abetting terrorism was viewed by every world leader with doubts and losing credibility.

While prime minister Modi spoke on every bilateral matter with both Xi Jing Ping and Vladimir Putin, his centre of emphasis was on ending terrorism globally and by Pakistan in Asia.

As for now, Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi has outrightly and specifically denied holding any type of bilateral talk with Pakistan’s premier unless or until to shows actions and commitment to free its land from terror sanctuaries completely not just a cover up to misguide the world community.

It may be recalled that China considered to be the God father of Pakistan in every way which was earlier scuttling the measures of US, UK n France by using VETO against them favoring Pakistan by not allowing JEM’s Masood Azhar to be included in the UN terror list has to finally bow down to international pressure and India’s diplomatic dexterity. China withdrew its VETO and the UN declared Masood as designated International terrorist.

This could only be possible due to the hard work done by India’s diplomats in UN and the capable leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi. The leaders of current member countries of Shaghai Cooporation Organisation are : Xi Jingping, Peoples Republic of China, Narendra Modi, Republic of India, Kassim Jomart Tokayev Republic of Kazajistan, Soron bay Jeebekov, Republic of Kyrgyztan, Imran Khan, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Vladimir Putin, Russian Federation, Republic of Tazikistan and Republic of Uzbekistan

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India is proud of the contribution of Indians abroad. Says, have never heard about their single complaint : PM Modi

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I have visited good number of countries abroad during my five year tenure and to whichever country I visited I was proud to hear about the praise of Indians living there.

I never came across about any complaint of any Indian during my visit rather Indians were lauded for their affableness and finest contribution.

India feels proud of all of you. Prime minister Narendra Modi expressed these words while addressing the Indian community in Colombo Sri Lanka today amid Modi Modi n Jai Shri Ram sloganeering hailing the prime minister.

Prime minister Narendra Modi after his brief address went to the crowd and jubilantly shook hands and accepted the greetings of maximum number of Indians curious to see him in their midst in Colombo Sri Lanka.

Addressing the curious and jubilant Indian community, prime minister Modi lauded the Indian electorates at home for voting in massive numbers, despite the scorching heat thus giving him and his government a clear and transparent mandate.

He said India for the very first time after independence witnessed the maximum number of voting percentage and was privileged to elect maximum numbers of women as members of Parliament.

Modi added: We as Indians should celebrate and appreciate our democracy as it’s not a system but a Sanskaar, a heritage brought forward by our ancestors.

India’s democracy is associated with Sanskaar it’s not a system he added. He said that in Indian democracy there are political differences during the elections but after counting is finished all are one, irrespective of ideological or political differences.

Entire India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari becomes united and cohesive. Now we are all one.

We have to work for the well being of 130 crore Indians. We have to make India strong, powerful and a progressive nation through our unified efforts.

Appreciating the Indians living and working abroad prime minister Narendra Modi said that even the Indian running a shop or involved in business in South Africa or other foreign countries think on same wave length as the prime minister of India.

This is the decency and beauty of Indian democracy. He appreciated and lauded the Indians living in Sri lanka and said that India is proud of their commitment, dedication and intelligence.

After the conclusion of his speech, PM Modi went to the enclosures of the Sri lankan Indians and shook hands and accepted their greetings on his victory.

Prime minister Narendra Modi also paid his respectful tributes to the deads of the terrorist attacks during Easter in which 11 Indians had also died.

Prime minister Narendra Modi is the first PM in the world to have visited Sri Lanka after the dreaded Easter attack claiming 250 lives.

This was the one day visit of PM Modi after his two days Maldives visit where he addressed the Maldives parliament and strongly condemned global terrorism and urged upon all the nations of the globe to come together to fight this menace with a heavy hand.

The prime minister Narendra Modi would be visiting the famous Tirupati Balaji shrine on his retun from Sri lanka.

Meanwhile prime minister tweeted about his Srilanka visit twice: I had a short but immensely fruitful Srilanka visit. Silanka has a special place in our hearts.

I assure my sisters and brothers of Srilanka that India will always be there with you and support your nation’s progress. Thank you for your memorable welcome and hospitality.

In the second tweet he wrote: Had fruitful discussions with Prime minister Ranil Wikramesinghe. Assured India’s full support to further strength bilatetal development partnership including through people oriented projects in Sri Lanka.

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EDITOR'S PICK

Jaishankar’s entry in Union cabinet reminds us of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s entry in Narsimha Rao’s cabinet in 1991

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Foreign minister S. Jaishankar, NSA Doval deliberating with PM Modi
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The Indian Foreign Service officer of 1977 batch n former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, brilliant bureaucrat Subramaniam Jaishankar’s entry in prime minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet as foreign minister is being lauded across political spectrum.

Even the arch rival of the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Congress party’s spokesperson Mir Afzal has lauded the induction of former foreign secretary S. Jaishankar in Modi’s cabinet as foreign minister saying that his vast experience as the foreign secretary n as High Commissioner n ambassador of China, United States of America and Pakistan would contribute immensely in strengthening our foreign policy and enhancing good relations with these two super powers, especially Pakistan with which India’s relations are quite strained n need urgent repair n resurrection.

It is relably learnt that the role of the national security advisor Ajit Doval who is considered to be the ear n most trusted lieutenant of prime minister Modi has played a pivotal role in advising the prime minister to use the services of Subramaniam Jaishankar.

It may be recalled that in 1991 when the country’s economy was in doldrums the then prime minister P. V. Narsimha Rao has specifically brought Dr. Manmohan Singh into his cabinet as the Finance minister being an expert economist n former governor of Reserve Bank of India.

Dr. Monmohan Singh had then played a pivital role in opening the squeezed economy by liberising it leading to myriad foreign investment in the country n opening the doors for big business houses to expand themselves thus closing the licence raj culture.

Similarly, the prime minister Narendra Modi has tested the outstanding contribution and role of S. Jaishankar as the foreign minister n as high commissioner n ambassador to China, USA n Pakistan and finally rewarded him with the most significant role.

Since coming to power in 2014 n again seeking a historic majority in 2019 the prime minister’s special emphasis has been on strengthening the foreign policy n maitaining healthiest relations with US, China, SAARC, BIMSTEC and other NATO countries in order to decisively counter international terrorism n sideline Pakistan in the global diplomatic scenerio.

And highly specialist foreign expert Subramaniam Jaishankar is the best choice to not only improve friendly relations with foreign powerful nations but to also assist the prime minister in these endeavours.

The challenge on the foreign policy front is tremendous n S. Jayshanker has now in his capacity as the foreign minister has to primarily work hard n with dexterity on three fronts (1) to establish proper coordination with countries like US, China, UK, Gulf countries, Japan, France, n other European nations in order to unite them against international terrorism especially sidelining Pakistan or improving relations with our neighbours (2) to energise efforts to get the veto power and membership in the United Nations Security Council n (3) to lobby for India in order to help include India in the elite Nucleur Supplies Group for which lots of efforts had been made in the past but Pakistan’s traditional friend China had created bottlenecks in India’s every move, thus keeping it away from NSG.

It may be recalled that Subramanium Jaishaker has come in prime minister Modi’s confidence in the year 2013 when the latter visited China in his capacity of Gujarat CM. Mr. Jaishankar was then the ambassador to China. Sources reveal that Mr. Jaishankar was of immense help to him during his visit by way of establishing Modi’s contact with Chinese leadership n bureaucracy.

Thereafter when Mr. Modi visited US during his first tenure in 2014 not only had the then US ambassador Jaishankar helped the PM in all his diplomatic moves but had also convinced the then US president Barak Obama visit India as the chief guest at the Republic Day function which got materialised within no time.

Moreover the prime minister would be visiting foreign nations in the months to come, especially in Shaghai Corporation Organisation meet and G 20 summit where he will also meet several important foreign heads including the Pakistan PM Imran Khan. New foreign minister Jaishankar’s role becomes all the more significant in view of the prime ministers global visits in these significant meetings.

It may be recalled that Subramaniam Jaishankar is a second career diplomat to assume the charge as foreign minister
after K. Natwar Singh of Congress years ago. Natwar Singh however had an unceremonious exit from Rajiv Gandhi cabinet during the nineties in a controversy related to bribe for Iraq oil by his son.

Now S. Jaishankar will have to become the Rajya Sabha MP or contest for Lok Sabha within six months of holding the office of the foreign minister.

It is believed that the trioka of NSA Ajit Doval, foreign minister S. Jaishankar n PM Narendra Modi will make wonders in foreign policy issues giving India a lead in the months to come.

The Doklam stand off issue had been resolved by the NSA Ajit Doval alongwith the then foreign secretary Jay Shankar who had also been responsible for maitaining good n balanced relations with US n China especially in the context of mutual trade n pressuring Pakistan to give up aiding n abetting terrorism and also to convince the world powers about its open n clear cut involvement in running terror sanctuaries in Pakistan n using them against India for destabilisation n disturbances in already strife torn Kashmir n in other parts of Asia.

What’s your take friends?

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Africa

The Vulture and the Little girl: The stark reality of Poverty, Hunger and Child Malnutrition

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In the contemporary world, the naturally most advanced creation, human beings are delimited by numerous adversaries and miseries. Amidst such unwelcoming adversaries, poverty, hunger, and malnutrition are the biggest threat to the human race. Taking a cue from such rarest of rare demons and difficulties, I will love to pen down a beautifully narrated and highly acclaimed incident from the third world country named South Sudan in Africa.

The memorable event, The vulture and the little girl, also known as “The Struggling Girl”, is a photograph by Kevin Carter which first appeared in The New York Times on 26 March 1993. It is a photograph of a frail famine-stricken boy, initially believed to be a girl, who had collapsed in the foreground with a vulture eyeing him from nearby. The child was reported to be attempting to reach a United Nations feeding center about a half mile away in Ayod, Sudan,(now South Sudan), in March 1993.

In 1993, Kevin Carter snapped the now famous photo in South Sudan while covering the famine plaguing the country, as well as the international relief efforts in response. When the picture first appeared in The New York Times, it ignited a firestorm that included both condemnations and congratulations for Carter. Most notably, the photo won him the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. Not long after, Carter committed suicide, unable to process the horrors he had witnessed in South Sudan. His end adds yet another layer of tragedy to this somber tale.

While on the way to a United Nations feeding center, a young boy – initially mistaken for a girl – had stopped to rest, exhausted by starvation. As his parents had likely gone ahead to collect food, the emaciated child lay vulnerable, attracting the attention of a vulture. Many people are familiar with this picture from the South Sudan famine, but few know that the tragedy reaches far beyond the picture itself – it extends to the photographer, Kevin Carter.

Putting aside the allegations and agitations of the picture and tale, one thing which must mull over in the current scenario is that whatever may be our miraculous achievement in every walk of life by the human beings, still the stigma of hunger and malnutrition prevails and persists across the globe. By no means, the people of third world countries have made themselves free out of its grief grip. To substantiate our discussion, we must make a detailed study of hunger and malnutrition.

Hunger defines a short-term physical discomfort as a result of chronic food shortage, or in severe cases, a life-threatening lack of food. (National Research Council, 2006)

World hunger refers to hunger aggregated to the global level. Related terms include food insecurity and malnutrition. Food insecurity refers to limited or unreliable access to foods that are safe and nutritionally adequate (National Research Council, 2006). Malnutrition is a condition resulting from insufficient intake of biologically necessary nutrients (National Research Council, 2006). Although malnutrition includes both overnutrition and undernutrition, the focus for global hunger is undernutrition.

Malnutrition rates remain alarming: stunting is declining too slowly while wasting still impacts the lives of far too many young children.

Nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition; undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and delays recovery. We are still far from a world without malnutrition.

Measures of child undernutrition are used to track development progress. In the Post-2015 Development Era, estimates of child malnutrition will help determine whether the world is on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – particularly, goal 2 to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”.

Poverty, Hunger, and Malnutrition:

Child malnutrition hurts cognitive function and contributes to poverty by impeding people’s ability to lead productive lives. Poverty is the leading cause of hunger, but poverty also results from hunger, in a cyclical relationship. In spite of the importance of childhood nutrition and significant progress in the last 25 years, global childhood hunger is still rampant.

  • According to WHO sources, Overall, 5.6 million children under age five died in 2016, nearly 15,000 daily. The risk of a child dying before five years of age is highest in Africa (76.5 per 1000 live births), about 8 times higher than in Europe (9.6 per 1000 live births)
  • As per the report of UNICEF approximately 3.1 million children die from undernutrition each year ). Hunger and undernutrition contribute to more than half of global child deaths, as undernutrition can make children more vulnerable to illness and exacerbate the disease.
  • Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which undernutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61%), malaria (57%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%) Malnutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as the diseases that cause diarrhea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, 23 million who live in Africa, which greatly impacts their ability to learn (World Food Programme [WFP].

Source: Mercy Corps, 2018

Every year Welthungerhilfe together with Concern Worldwide publishes world hunger Index to make aware of the impoverished and malnourished. Still, crores of children die out starvation and deprived of basic amenities. Rich nations instead of increasing their imperialism must pay attention to such vulnerable and gut-wrenching issues. It is a wakeup call for all of us.

 

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Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg wants govt to play ‘more active’ in regulating internet

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Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has called for governments to play a “more active role” inregulating the internet, urging more countries to adopt versions of sweeping European rules aimed at safeguarding user privacy.

Facebook and other internet giants have long resisted government intervention, but the leading social network has reversed course amid growing calls for regulation, in an apparent bid to help steer the debate.

“I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators,” Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Saturday.

“By updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it – the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things – while also protecting society from broader harms,” he said.

Mark Zuckerberg argues that new regulations are needed in four areas: harmful content, protection of elections, privacy and data portability.

Facebook has drawn fire over all four, from hate speech on the platform and the recent live streaming of attacks on mosques in New Zealand, to its use in foreign efforts to meddle in elections and concerns over its collection of personal user data.

Addressing protection of user privacy, Zuckerberg said he would support more countries adopting rules in line with the European Union’s sweeping General Data Protection Regulation, which gives regulators sweeping powers to sanction organizations which fail to adhere to heightened standards of security when processing personal data.

“I believe it would be good for the internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework,” Zuckerberg wrote, also calling for regulation to guarantee data portability between services.

On harmful content, Zuckerberg said he agreed with lawmakers who have argued that “we have too much power over speech,” saying that “third-party bodies” could set standards on distribution of harmful material and “measure companies against those standards.”

And on elections, Zuckerberg noted that existing laws are focused on candidates and elections instead of “divisive political issues where we’ve seen more attempted interference,” urging legislation to be updated to “reflect the reality of the threats.”

“The rules governing the internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people’s lives,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.”

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Migrants held in El Paso, Texas, enclosure as surge overwhelms city

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Hundreds of migrants are being held in a chain-link enclosure in El Paso, Texas as the number of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the city overwhelms U.S. Border Patrol facilities, the agency said on Thursday. The enclosure holds migrants crossing the border illegally in metropolitan El Paso as they wait to be processed at a nearby Border Patrol station, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ramiro Cordero said by phone.

How long they remain in the enclosure, set up late last month below the city’s Paso del Norte International Bridge to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, depends on how many migrants cross the border, he said.Right now, they are crossing at an average of 570 people per day in that area.

“It could be a couple of hours, it could be more than that, it could be overnight, I can’t tell you, it’s just too many people for me to tell you an exact time or time frame,” Cordero said.

The enclosure was put up to help Border Patrol cope with a surge in mainly Central American asylum seekers that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been predicting for “some time,” agency head Kevin McAleenan said at an El Paso press briefing on Wednesday.

Migrants at the “transition center” are given silver thermal blankets and can get shelter, food, water and a medical evaluation, officials said. A Reuters photographer saw children sleeping outside in the enclosed area on Sunday night when the low was around 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius).

More than 1,000 migrants were arrested in the El Paso sector on Monday, bringing the total number in CBP custody – including the enclosure – to almost 3,500 Wednesday. The migrants are in facilities built for far fewer people and designed for single adults who once formed the bulk of arrests, McAleenan said.

Families and children now form the majority of apprehensions across the Southwest border, with a record 55,000 family units apprehended or encountered in March, McAleenan said. McAleenan said “soft-sided buildings” with walls of canvass and plastic would provide a stop-gap measure to house migrant families before a planned $192 million processing facility is built in the city. But those buildings have yet to be put up, according to the Border Patrol’s Cordero.

El Paso migrant shelters are receiving around 700 people a day from immigration authorities, compared with a previous high of 2,000 a week (less than 300 a day) in late 2018, said Dylan Corbett, director of El Paso’s Hope Border Institute which advocates for migrant rights.

“It’s not sustainable right now, that’s why everyone is really nervous, because this just can’t last,” said Corbett by phone.

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US approves secret nuclear power work for Saudi Arabia

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US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, according to a copy of a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The Trump administration has quietly pursued a wider deal on sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia, which aims to build at least two nuclear power plants. Several countries including the United States, South Korea, and Russia are in competition for that deal, and the winners are expected to be announced later this year by Saudi Arabia.
Perry’s approvals, known as Part 810 authorizations, allow companies to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of any deal but not ship equipment that would go into a plant, a source with knowledge of the agreements said on condition of anonymity. The approvals were first reported by the Daily Beast.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in the document that the companies had requested that the Trump administration keep the approvals secret.
“In this case, each of the companies which received a specific authorization for (Saudi Arabia) have provided us written request that their authorization be withheld from public release,” the NNSA said in the document. In the past, the Energy Department made previous Part 810 authorizations available for the public to read at its headquarters.
A Department of Energy official said the requests contained proprietary information and that the authorizations went through multi-agency approval process. Many U.S. lawmakers are concerned that sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia could eventually lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS last year that the kingdom would develop nuclear weapons if its rival Iran did. In addition, the kingdom has occasionally pushed back against agreeing to U.S. standards that would block two paths to potentially making fissile material for nuclear weapons clandestinely: enriching uranium and reprocessing spent fuel.
Concern in Congress about sharing nuclear technology and knowledge with Saudi Arabia rose after U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Part 810 authorizations were made after November 2017, but it was not clear from the document whether any of them were made after Khashoggi’s killing.
Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat, called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a congressional hearing on Wednesday to release the names of the companies that got the approvals by the middle of April, and

Pompeo said he would look into it. Sherman also said the Trump administration had attempted to evade Congress on sharing nuclear power with the kingdom. Pompeo said the administration was working to ensure any shared technology nuclear power would not present proliferation risks.
Last month, Democratic House members alleged in a report that top White House aides ignored warnings they could be breaking the law as they worked with former U.S. officials in a group called IP3 International to advance a multibillion-dollar plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
IP3 did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it was one of the companies that got a Part 810 authorization. Separately, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, accepted a request by Senators Marco Rubio, a Republican and Bob Menendez, a Democrat, to probe the administration’s talks on a nuclear deal with Saudi, the GAO said on Wednesday.

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NASA scraps all-women space walk for lack of well-fitting suits

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The US space agency NASA scrapped Monday a planned historic spacewalk by two women astronauts, citing a lack of available spacesuits that would fit them at the International Space Station. Christina Koch will now perform tasks in space Friday with fellow American Nick Hague — instead of Anne McClain as originally planned.

Had Koch and McClain done their spacewalk together, it would have been the first ever by two women astronauts. Until now, male-only or mixed male-female teams had conducted spacewalk since the space station was assembled in 1998 — 214 spacewalks until now.

McClain worked outside the station last week — with Hague — when she realized that a “medium”-sized upper half of her spacesuit fit her better. “Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it,” NASA explained.

The spacesuits aboard the ISS are in fact assemblies of several parts put together as best adapted to each astronaut’s body, explained Brandi Dean, spokeswoman of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where American astronauts are based.

She said two upper parts in each of the three available spacesuit sizes are currently held at the ISS: medium, large and extra large.

“We do our best to anticipate the spacesuit sizes that each astronaut will need, based on the spacesuit size they wore in training on the ground, and in some cases astronauts train in multiple sizes,” she said in explaining the problem that hampered Friday’s planned spacewalk.

“However, individuals’ sizing needs may change when they are on orbit, in response to the changes living in microgravity can bring about in a body.

“In addition, no one training environment can fully simulate performing a spacewalk in microgravity, and an individual may find that their sizing preferences change in space.”

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Mozambique Cyclone: Death toll rises to 750, fighting diseases new challenge

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Cyclone Idai’s death toll has risen above 750 in the three southern African countries hit 10 days ago by the storm, as workers restore electricity, water and try to prevent the outbreak of cholera, authorities said Sunday.

In Mozambique, the number of dead has risen to 446 while there are 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi for a three-nation total of 761.

All numbers for deaths are still preliminary, warned Mozambique’s Environment Minister Celso Correia.

As flood waters recede and more bodies are discovered, the final death toll in Mozambique alone could be above the early estimate of 1,000 made by the country’s president a few days after the cyclone hit, said aid workers.

Nearly 110,000 people are now in camps more than a week after Cyclone Idai hit, said Correia, the government’s emergency coordinator. As efforts to rescue people trapped by the floods wind down, aid workers across the vast region are bracing for the spread of disease.

“We’ll have cholera for sure,” Correia said at a press briefing, saying a center to respond to cholera has been set up in Beira though no cases have yet been confirmed. Beira is working to return basic services, he said.

Electricity has been restored to water pumping and treatment stations by the government water agency, so Beira and the nearby city of Dondo are getting clean water, he said.

Electricity has been restored to part of Beira and the port and railway line have re-opened, he said.

Repairs and bypasses are being built to the main road, EN6, which links Beira to the rest of Mozambique and the road should open Monday, said, Correia.

The restored road connection will allow larger deliveries of food, medicines and other essential supplies to be brought to Beira and to flooded areas like Nhamatanda, west of the city.

“People are already going,” the environment minister said of the newly accessible road.

Malaria is another looming health problem that the minister said was “unavoidable” because large expanses of standing water encourage the spread of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Asked about his country’s current corruption scandal and whether the diversion of money has hurt the rescue efforts, Correia bristled, saying the government’s focus now is on saving lives.

“We are doing everything to fight corruption,” he said. “It’s systematic, up to the top,” he said of the anti-graft drive.

Two large field hospitals and water purification systems were on the way, joining a wide-ranging effort that includes drones to scout out areas in need across the landscape of central Mozambique, said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, deputy director of the UN Humanitarian operation.

The scale of the devastation is “extraordinary” not only because of the cyclone and flooding but because the land had already had been saturated by earlier rains, he said.

A huge number of aid assets are now in Mozambique, Stampa said: “No government in the world can respond alone in these circumstances.”

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Thailand: Polls open for first election since 2014 military coup

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Polls opened on Sunday for Thailand’s first election since a 2014 military coup, a vote that is being seen as a contest between the country’s junta leader who wants to stay on as elected leader and a “democratic front” of anti-junta parties.

About 51.4 million people are eligible to vote in the election, which analysts say is likely to be inconclusive and could usher in a new phase of political instability.

More than 93,000 polling stations in 77 provinces will be open until 5 pm.

The election commission has said that the first unofficial results will be available three hours after voting ends.

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